Paul writes that God is the one who calls them. He is the originator of their faith, bringing them out of darkness (1 Peter 2:9). And this same God who calls is faithful. He is sturdy and sure and unwavering. We do not have to guess whether he will continue to keep his promises—he will love his people perfectly, forever.
In my younger days, I thought the benediction just marked the end of the worship service. Perhaps the musicians needed a cue to prepare for the postlude.
Now, the benediction is one of my favorite parts of Sunday morning. I desperately need the blessing of the Lord, and I hunger for it as the worship service winds down. I know some of what Jacob felt, when he would not let the angel go without a blessing (Gen 32:22–32).
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24)
You may feel weary as you read this today, but by meditating on this blessing you may find just the encouragement you need.
Paul begins by praying that God would sanctify his friends. If we’re paying attention to the context of this passage, this request is no surprise at all.
Paul has spent most of his letter encouraging the Thessalonians in their sanctification—that is, their growth and maturity as followers of Jesus. He has remarked how far they have come, and he has urged them to press on still more. (See 1 Thess 1:2–10; 2:13–16; 3:6; 4:1–12; 5:11.)
This prayer for God to sanctify his people is a delightful and fitting summary of the letter.
The God of Peace
If sanctification is an unsurprising topic, the title used for God may be less expected. We may not balk at opening the Bible and reading about “the God of peace,” but why does Paul use it here when praying about sanctification?
I usually connect peace with God to conversion and adoption. When my soul has a new orientation and master, I am no longer at war with my maker.